Let me preface this post by quoting Hugo "Hurley" Reyes... "I can't believe you're just giving him Australia, Australia's the key to the whole game."
Hurley knows what is happening in RISK. Hurley also knows exactly what is happening on the ISLAND.
Hurley's new found confidence in the alternate time-line is a reference to Hurley's unseen potential as well as his cool-headed problem solving abilities and positive attitude. We have now seen Hurley step up to the plate as leader of the LOSTIES as they are at the temple. And guess what?!?! for once.. no one has died yet. Well, no one has died that hasn't come back from the dead.
Jack's role in Hurley's road to becoming the protector of the island... getting everyone (in his ability) to follow Hurley... and I'm pretty sure that Hurley will be able to take care of everyone else that is not. Hurley will be able to take suggestions (not orders) from the newly deceased Jacob. Then Jack sacrifices himself to Hurley. Then Hurley miraculously saves someone with a broken back or something of the sort because Dead Jack is telling him how to do it. Too Far Fetched? Ha.. Maybe.
Still, maybe it isn't the extremist "science" or "faith" beleivers that we should have been looking for the whole time to protect the island, but instead it is a humanist, the one person who actually cares about how people feel in the show. The key to the whole game... Hugo Reyes.